Thursday, March 26, 2020

I Know

I'm not sure where to start. 

It's been a couple of week since the world, literally, shut down. I've had so many emotions that I don't even know how to frame them...process them...or take charge of them.

At least, sometimes I don't.

I'm worried about loved ones, and colleagues, and friends, and...everybody. That feels like a lot.

At least, sometimes it does.

I started a new job a few months ago. Then the world changed. I was still trying to figure out my new normal. Now I'm figuring out a newer normal. It's odd. Swinging between big ideas and plans for taking over the world...to struggling with the reality of that invisible enemy can be overwhelming.

At least, sometimes it is.

Somewhere in this mess we can't lose sight of the people on the frontline..in hospitals, as first responders, the researchers, the delivery people, the store clerks, the clergy...and on and on. They are risking so much...and I feel like I'm not doing my part.

At least, sometimes I do.


I'm thinking about you all my friends.

I'm thinking about the opportunities we have to provide inspirational leadership.

I'm thinking that prioritizing people is probably the most important thing we can do...it might just be our historical legacy.

In fact, I know that is true.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

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Monday, March 9, 2020

The Smoke of Many Fires

There are lots of warning signs of trouble ahead in the world of work. We can see them if we're willing to actually look. I mean, really look. 

I'm So Effective, Just Look at My Title
Sure, it's easy to point the finger at this person or that person and quickly deflect all accountability from ourselves or our leadership style. But quite honestly, I've always felt that the higher up the proverbial ladder I climbed, the greater the pressure I felt.

Think about it...when you're one of 100 it's fairly easy to blend into the crowd. When you're one of one...well, not so easy anymore. It's all on you.

Everyone is watching.
Everyone expects you to be perfect.
Every time.

Job titles do mean something at this stage. They mean pressure to perform each day.

Smartest Person in the Room
Another warning sign of trouble is the "smart guy" syndrome. You've seen these folks in action. 

They have the solution for every issue the organization is facing. Just going to be honest here...that drives me crazy. (it's even worse, when I fall into the trap of being Mr. Know-It-All)

And as before...everyone is watching. Evaluating. Judging.

How About You
So what are we to do when the smoke starts to rise? We intervene, that's what. We pull those people aside and give them the coaching they deserve. They are in those roles for a reason...they've just drifted a bit from your organization's values. 

Help them get back on track.
That's what we do as leaders, right?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

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Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Gratitude and Limits

There was a time when I was an up and comer. I was on the career fast track, and I knew it. I didn't take it for granted; in fact, quite the opposite was true. At times I couldn't believe my good fortune and was grateful for every moment. I tried to soak up every experience like a sponge...constantly learning was essential.

Fast forward to middle-aged me.

New Again
I'm now two months into a whole new phase of my career journey. A new role, with a fabulous company that I've been connected to for almost twenty years. I'm leveraging every part of my previous thirty years of experience and pouring it into my new world.

It's intense, and thrilling, and scary, and incredibly exciting.

Building new things isn't for everyone. For me, building new things from the foundations of greatness is just about the best job in the world. 

Trusting the Vision
The path isn't exactly clear. 
There isn't a published roadmap in place yet. 
There isn't even an "end of the story" written in advance (because we now see that we have no limits.)

But we're taking something really good, and we're turning it into something incredible. How many of us have that opportunity? 

I don't take my new life for granted either; and still can't believe that good fortune has continued to follow me.


How About You
What path are you on? Are you fired up each day, whether or not the day is mapped out perfectly? Or, are you more comfortable playing it safe. Safe is okay.

If you're into just being...okay.

I think you should get fired up instead.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Monday, February 10, 2020

I Have Plans

They say that battle plans always look good until the battle starts. Then everything changes in an instant regardless of what was expected. I think the same can be true in business.

Strategic Plans, Business Plans, Marketing Plans
I like plans. I like investing the time to think through what should happen, what could happen, and how I might manage the unexpected things that probably will pop up. It's almost a competition for me. 

How can I beat the system and help my organization win?

I love to win.

However, what happens when all of that thinking and planning and communicating launches and...guess what...things don't go as planned? For real.

That is the real test, right? Table top exercises are helpful, but woefully inadequate compared to the real thing. When leaders find the courage to authorize new initiatives and put them into practice, that is when the heart rate goes up and the rush of the world of business kicks in.

At least it does for me.

I love the rush.

Fear of Failure = Leadership Failure
If plans can be so effective, even if we need to be nimble enough to adjust them on the fly, why don't more leaders invest the time to build them? Why do organizations play the "we're so busy we don't have time to build a strategy" card?

I don't get it.


Plans work. Excuses don't.



How About You
What is standing in your way to think through what needs to be done in your organization? Candidly, developing effective plans takes much longer than you think. But the results will also be better, right?

That's how planning works. 

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

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Monday, January 27, 2020

Kindness, Grace...and Work?

"It's not personal, it's business."

I've said this a thousand times...and I'm quite sure I'll say it a thousand times more before I call it a career and delete my email accounts forever.

Faith and Leadership in the Workplace
I've been writing about faith for many years here. Faith is the horsepower behind the two words that I'm focusing on in 2020: kindness and grace.

Sometimes the three words in today's title seem incompatible. 

How exactly does one demonstrate grace while making difficult decisions and driving hard on what needs to be done in the workplace? 

How do we create that sense of urgency, that "good" pressure to keep things moving and to achieve results, all while being kind to those around us?

Overthinking It
I would offer that it may not be nearly as difficult as we might think. The old school leadership style of being mean or forceful as a way to earn respect is now an embarrassing moment for everyone...at the very least...and is candidly career-limiting in the world of work today.

The opportunity to integrate both kindness and grace comes through the delivery of our messages. Yes, accountability is critical to execution. But so is buy-in, respect for the team, and a willingness to hear other voices to ensure the best path is taken.

Consider when a leader has shown you kindness and grace in your career. I bet you already pictured them in your mind before you got to this sentence, right?

Be that leader.

How About You
What are your leadership priorities this year? I have a long list of business outcomes that must be achieved; however, I plan on achieving them in a way that perhaps I hadn't fully incorporated into my leadership style in the past.

Kindness.
Grace.
Work.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

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Monday, January 20, 2020

What's Your Leadership Definition?

Your CEO steps onto the elevator with you, turns to greet you, and instead of saying hello, says..."tell me your leadership definition."

What's your answer? 

I'll wait...but I'm not sure you'll have time to wait in that elevator.

Leadership Is Everything
Imagine the impact in that moment when you deliver a clean, concise response. The look on your CEO's face...the insight she or he gets into who you are beyond your solid performance day in and day out.

Imagine how good that would feel.

Or...

You stumble. You don't have anything much of value to say, but you do a heck of a job dropping all of the most unoriginal jargon you can think of as you panic.

Imagine how bad that would feel.

How About You
Does it sound hokey to have a leadership definition? I bet it doesn't anymore. Think about it. Write it down. Share it.

Most importantly...live it.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

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Monday, January 13, 2020

Your Last 10%

A number of years ago I was with a great friend at his workplace where he was speaking with a member of his team about a difficult topic. He sensed she was trying to be diplomatic and was not being completely forthright as she answered his questions.

Then he said, "what is your last 10%?"

I'm sure I had a puzzled look on my face as I watched this exchange, as I had absolutely no idea what his question meant.

His team member paused...flashed a bit of a nervous smile...and gave a completely honest answer to his previous series of questions.

Once this impromptu meeting ended, I asked my friend about the last 10%, and why it shifted her answers to the core of the issue.

He explained that he has a rule with his team. They are required - like most teams - to be honest and thoughtful about their communication. But in case something gets too complicated, politically sensitive or just a bit awkward, they can ask for the other person to give their "last 10% of what they're thinking."

I love that.

A culture whereby even the most challenging of topics have a clear path to be discussed without fear of retribution because you are given the freedom to share that final bit of information on your mind.

How About You
What culture have you created in your workplace? The real one. Does it have clear paths for your team members to be completely honest? 

Maybe the last 10% help?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.